Choosing Castleton Farm: Real Castleton Couples

Castleton Farms wants to share a little LOVE from our 2013 Brides and Grooms. Here, in their own words, find out what they LOVED most about their Castleton experience and find out why they decided to make Castleton their wedding venue of choice!

Bride and groom on wedding day

 “Well, for me, I knew I was only going to get married once, so I had to do it right! From the moment I saw the sheer, effortless elegance Castleton exudes, the search for my perfect venue was over.  As a full-time law student as well as part-time employee, planning a wedding wasn’t something I could possibly have time to do by myself – that’s where Darla came in. I cannot sing her praises enough. She and the Castleton crew made my entire wedding experience a true fairy tale!

Mr. and Mrs. Kevin Newton

Real couple on wedding day

“The absolute best thing about Castleton farms is Darla. She helped us make the best decisions before the wedding, and literally took care of everything we needed the day of the wedding. We loved her level of involvement! No wedding is stress free, but we are so thankful Darla was there to take care of us. We trusted her from the moment we booked the venue, and she took incredible care of us.”

Mr. and Mrs. Nick Kakanis

Carnival themed wedding

“Dreams do come true! There are not enough words to completely express our thanks and appreciation for all that Castleton did to make our day the BEST day of our lives. No detail was left undone, and the Castleton grounds looked as if they were ripped from the pages of Southern Weddings magazine. The styling team really carried out our vision of a Vintage Carnival themed wedding throughout the ceremony, Carriage House, and reception. Our guests are still swooning over how amazingly beautiful everything looked! We find it nothing less than incredible that, with the volume of weddings you all help to perfect, ours was truly so unique and everything we dreamed of. The food was absolutely delicious and unique, as was the cake. The Castleton team, led by the amazingly talented Darla Walker, exceeded all of our expectations and absolutely no detail went unnoticed or unappreciated. We could not have dreamt of a better way to begin our journey as husband and wife and we are so thankful for Castleton’s hard work, creativity, love and passion that they put into every inch of our Castleton Experience. Brides, look no more…because everything you dreamed of is about to come true!!”

Mr. and Mrs. Michael Courtney

Choosing Castleton Farms: Darla Walker

Darla Walker with bride and groom at Halloween wedding

And first runner up of why you should choose Castleton Farms as your wedding venue….our very own, Darla Walker. When she reads this, I won’t be her favorite intern anymore because she is humble and wants absolutely no accolades, but the truth is, Castleton Farms could not be the most sought after venue in the South without her.  She is everything that a wedding planner should be.  She wears many hats and wears them well. I would like to think of her as a fairy godmother. She takes your vision of a fairy tale wedding,waves her magic wand and makes everything come true, just like that! *poof* How does she do it? In my opinion, she has been given a God-given talent. Talent, coupled with experience, style, negotiation and project management is a win-win in the wedding planning industry. Lucky for our Castleton Brides, her talents are at your disposal. She takes the stress, the negotiations, the budget restraints, project execution and carries it on her shoulders until the end, while doing all this, she has the wonderful ability to keep a clear head and still get excited about all the tiny details. This enables our brides to have fun during this process. After all, your wedding is supposed to be fun! You’re not supposed to worry!  This is where Darla steps in. From the beginning, until the end, she is with you every step of the way. After the initial Castleton experience, she begins her magic. She converts your vision into reality. This includes supervising vendor negotiations, managing vendors, managing guests, and handling all other wedding details, no matter how unimportant they may seem. She helps you save money, manages your timeline, while trouble shooting any unforeseen mishaps. Not only does she handle these important tasks, but she is a sounding board for decisions, a mediator, a therapist, a stress reducer and a resource of knowledge that is invaluable in this industry! Her awards and her testimonies speak for themselves. When you choose Castleton, Darla is the wedding topper on your cake, she genuinely loves our brides and follows them for many years after their big day. When you become a Castleton Bride, you become part of the Castleton family, and of course Darla, will always be your fairy godmother!

Darla Walker with bride and groom

Darla Walker with bride and groom

Darla Walker and bride at rehearsal dinner

Julie Roberts Photography


The First Dance Is The Best Dance

The First Dance Is The Best Dance

The first dance is THE most important song of the night. Next to seeing you kiss at the alter, this is one of the most romantic events of your wedding; your big moment alone on the dance floor.  So yes, the song has to be perfect! 

When choosing the perfect song think back to experiences you’ve shared as a couple. For some couples, “your song” could be played, but for other couples that do not have one particular song, the decision may not be so easy. Take a stroll down memory lane and remember the movies and TV shows you’ve seen together. Recall concerts of favorite musicians you’ve attended. Remember special moments you’ve shared and the song that played in the background. As newlyweds, this touching first official spin around the dance floor, will create a memory that will last a lifetime. Have fun with it and make sure the song is sentimental to both of you!

Before making your first dance song decision, decide on the tempo you wish to create. You and your future husband have many options; adventurous, entertaining or romantic. If adventurous is the answer, plan on surprising the love of your life. Allow the bride to choose the first dance and the groom to choose the last dance, or vice versa. If entertaining is the answer, take dance lessons together. Choose a song that allows you to show off your dancing skills and add some pizzazz and personality to your first dance! If romantic is the tempo you are searching for, choose a sweet love song. Hold each other tight, sing to each other and tell each other how much you love them during this memorable moment. It all depends on how you, the bride and groom, want your guests to remember your special day. After all, it is your day and your way, so make it something to remember!

Finding that one special song can sometimes be difficult. It’s normal to draw a blank or have “Wedding Song Block.” That’s why Castleton has created a unique wedding song list, a list that can meet every Castleton couple’s desire! While taking a quick look at the songs below, feel free to click on the song title for your listening pleasure.  

We hope that you will find the PERFECT first dance song. One that reflects your relationship with one another and one that shows your true personality as a couple. Castleton’s desire for all of their brides and grooms is for the first song to set the scene and help the couple’s love story come to life, both now and in the future!

I Thought I Loved You Then– Brad Paisley

Amen– Dave Barnes

Love Never Fails– Brandon Heath 

God Gave Me You– Dave Barnes 

At Last– Etta James 

That’s How Strong My Love Is– Ottis Redding 

Love Is Not A Fight– Warren Barfield 

Loving You, Loving Me– Dave Barnes 

Better Together– Jack Johnson 

I Have and Always Will– Dave Barnes 

The Day Before You– Matthew West

Nothing Fancy– Dave Barnes 

Wanted– Hunter Hayes 

More Than A Man– Dave Barnes 

She Is Love– Parachute 

Say Forever– Redruth

Until You– Dave Barnes 

Make You Feel My Love– Adele 

On A Night Like This– Dave Barnes 

Marry Me– Train

Castleton’s Next Couple: Meredith and Spence

Castleton’s next wedding has been a long time (and a lot of long distance phone calls) in the making! What began six and a half years ago as a dinner date would turn into a love that would span the country and eventually the globe. During the course of their relationship Meredith and Spence would spend less than half of it living in the same city. A few years into their relationship Spence made the admirable decision to serve his country in the U.S. Army. After being relocated a couple times state side, he was deployed to the unstable country of Afghanistan. Meredith would have to give the love of her life a kiss and send her soldier off to war, not knowing when he would return to her. She realized quickly that the support of her family and friends would be indispensible while coping with the deployment Spence. After 8 long months in Afghanistan Spence safely returned home to Meredith! In only 25 days she will say, “I do” to her military hero and love of her life and celebrate with those same family and friends that we such a source of support! We are so excited to be apart of this celebration! Congratulations!

photography by:  akvogel

Vintage Vineyard Wedding

Longing for a romantic wedding in wine country? A vineyard wedding is the ultimate in sophisticated rustic elegance. But there is no need to travel to France and leave all of your loved ones behind. You can get that same experience state side if you know where to look. The Vineyard at Castleton Farms coupled with one of our skilled wedding planners is the perfect combination to achieve your dream vineyard wedding. Memorable wedding designs come down to the details and there are plenty of creative details to include in this elegant wedding, but in this case the venue is more important than ever.  A vineyard wedding must simply stated, be held in a vineyard. Whether it is the ceremony, cocktail hour or the reception, some portion of the event must allow your guests to wander between the rows  of live growing grapes and taste the fruit straight from the vine. I love that Castleton’s vineyard is planted with the muscadine grape; a grape native to Tennessee and a taste that brings back my childhood with one bite!

Now that you have an amazing venue, let’s talk about the details. Your colors can range from deep wine reds and purples to light fresh champagne peaches and whites. If you go for the lighter colors, tan or grey suits on your groomsmen are a great choice to keep your bridal party balanced. Vineyard weddings will often see the bride in a slimmer silhouette, but bolder brides may opt for a fuller gown in deep rich colors, especially for a dramatic evening ceremony with candles.

We love the idea of sending a bottle of wine as the invitation with all of the wedding information printed on the custom label.

These eco friendly cork invitations available on etsy are also a great first glance of what lies ahead for your guests.

Of course grapes of many varieties and should find their way into your décor and centerpieces, although your bouquets and boutonnieres should be void of this staining fruit.

The cocktail hour and reception for this type of wedding can be super elegant and refined.

The perfect accompaniment to wine is cheese! So a cheese sampling is a must, but also consider dishes made with a variety of different or unique cheese. For the cocktail hour consider Goat Cheese with Pancetta, a Cornmeal Soufflé with Blue Cheese or Smoked Salmon with Mascarpone. Grilled vegetables also pair well with cheeses especially when finished with an aged balsamic vinegar or rich olive oil. Fruit jams with cheese and crackers can be simple, but delicious.

A Caramelized Onion Tart with brie followed by a Grilled Corn Soup are sure to have your guests on the edge of their seats in anticipation of the main course. A grilled beef tenderloin or roasted duck or lamb are all wonderful options for the main course.

Now that your mind (and taste buds) are busy with the menu let’s talk about before and after the ceremony. Consider hiring a sommelier for a wine tasting as your rehearsal dinner. This is a great opportunity to taste and understand new wines with your bridal party. Speaking of bridal party, what gifts do you give these people that are so dear to you? How about a picnic basket filled with everything necessary for a romantic evening of their own; wine, preserves, local honey, crackers, marinated olives, roasted peppers and smoked meats. (there go my taste buds again).   

When you plan a wedding around wine, amazing food is sure play a big part. Congratulations, you now have a wedding your guests can’t wait to attend!


Featured Bride: Kayla Hyder











Of all the wonderful things we get to be a part of at Castleton Farms; from helping a bride plan her special day to standing by her side before she walks down the aisle, the absolute best is when I get to see into the special, intimate, personal moments that she will treasure for the rest of her marriage. Recently a bride as been sweet enough to share some of those moments with me and my eyes have been filled with tears more than once over the past week.

I want to introduce you to a very special Castleton Bride; Kayla. Kayla and her fiancé, Michael will be committing their lives to each other this Fall in a Vintage Carnival Themed wedding (and I for one can’t wait to see it come together)!

After Kayla’s recent wedding shower, she was sharing with the staff at Castleton Farms how totally perfect it was. So I asked her if I could share it on our blog and she said, “Absolutely!”

Of all the details that go into making an event prefect, some of the most important are that it is personal, heartfelt and sincere. Kayla’s shower had all of this and more. Held in the church she grew up in, she was surrounded by memories and a church family that has loved her for many years. More than just a venue, it is a place that holds a piece of her heart. Planning any event can add stress to your life, but Kayla chose to enjoy the time she and her mom spent preparing and made memories during the process she will treasure forever. (A great lesson from Kayla for all brides; the journey can be just as special as the destination!) Magazine worthy décor makes any event feel glamorous and great food is the icing on the cake (wink, wink), but Kayla added a very intimate item to her agenda that touched my heart. In light of her love for Hot Air Balloons she had a very unique balloon release! All of her guests wrote a wish for her and her future husband on a wishtag. They then read their wish for her and Michael out loud and tied it to their balloon. At the conclusion of the shower they released their wishes into the Heavens! How sweet is that! To have the people you love most in the world sharing their wishes for you and offering them up as prayers. Love! To top it off she received a special Bible from her cousin’s family and a custom handmade sign from a precious friend that read “I am my Beloved’s and my Beloved is mine.”  What a beautiful image what marriage is really all about.

We all love beautiful things. And we at Castleton love to create beautiful weddings. But the most beautiful of all is the intimacy found in the true surrender of one person to another, trusting another person with everything we have that is private and precious and knowing it is as sacred to them as it is to us. Kayla, thank you for sharing with us that which is precious to you!






Hand Painted Wedding Cake

Hand Painted Wedding Cakes

Hand Painted Wedding Cakes

Every now and then I come across a new trend in weddings that absolutely blows me away. I have been lucky enough to stumble across such a trend. Nothing will personalize and glamorize your wedding like one of the most amazing trends in weddings; Hand Painted Cakes.  A hand painted cake is an edible work of art. Like a traditional cake decorated with butter cream or fondant, a hand painted cake can be either elegantly simple or ornately complex. Either way they are absolutely stunning to behold. The designs and possibililties for this type of cake are limited only by imagination. So this is one aspect of your wedding where you can jump in with both feet and let your imagination run. Most good designers love it when you come to them with unique ideas and new challenges. And keep in mind a great designer will be able to help guide you toward your dream cake even if you are not sure what exactly that is. So make sure when choosing your pastry chef you not only taste her work but also peruse her portfolio.

Having spent countless hours coloring, molding, rolling and cutting fondant I can appreciate the heightened artistry and skill that goes into the completion of one of these designs. Although I am sure it takes a great length of time to master this art, I can’t wait to attempt a simple one for myself. I have already ordered the special brushes and watched hours of tutorials with talented pastry chefs creating these stunning sugar spectaculars. I have volunteered to make a baby shower cake for a friend and plan to incorporate some of these techniques. Of course I will keep you posted on my attempt!

Love this Hand Painted Cake from Three Little Black Birds Cakes  in Colorado!










Downton Abbey English Garden Wedding

With the amazing Downton Abbey wedding still fresh in our minds, it is finally getting warm enough here in East Tennessee to experience the regal elegance of proper England in the maternal mountains of East Tennessee! If you, like the rest of America, have gotten swept up in the vintage glamour that is Downton Abbey, you have found the inspiration that can take your wedding from run of the mill to Edwardian Elegance.

Luck for you vintage; specifically 1920’s vintage, is hugely popular right now. Antique stores and upscale boutiques as well as thrift stores are a treasure trove waiting to assist you in the details.

When choosing jewelry look for pearls, cameos and enameled jewelry, all hugely popular in the early 1900’s. To capture the look and feel of the period as you walk down the aisle your dress should be highwaisted and lace. A floor length veil accompanied by an intricate rhinestone head piece will complete your bridal look. Soft grays, blues, champagnes and peaches create a soft romantic ambiance.

While your wedding decorations me be not be difficult to locate, your venue on the other hand must be on par with the aristocratic air of the day. A sprawling English estate may not be at your ready, but the Gardens at Castleton Farms are. Gardens that would awe even majestic Lady Mary!

If you are fortunate enough to book a venue as regal as the Gardens at Castleton Farms, a Garden Party would be a PERFECT cocktail hour, cucumber sandwiches, scones with lemon curd, lemon cookies or English trifle are all sure please the distinguished palates of your guests. To really evoke the richness of the period take a cue from Downton Abbey and model your dinner menu from courses served on the Titanic. Courses to consider are Oysters a la Russe, Glazed Duck and Asparagus salad. You might even consider serving your elegant dinner on the English Croquet lawn at Castleton!

If you choose a Downton Abbey English Garden Wedding you are not looking for simple, you are looking for lush, elaborate and over the top! So let your vintage diva shine!


Pamper Your Princess

Bridal PartyGirlfriends are the best and bridesmaids are the best of the best! So why not give your royal subjects the royal treatment, Your Majesty! After all it’s your day to be Queen, so why not issue a royal decree. May I suggest a Spa Day?

Spa treatments also make great gifts for your bridal party. You can either present your lucky ladies with a gift certificate or you can schedule a day before or after the ceremony to go together to the spa. Going together before the ceremony allows you to all unwind together and look your best for the big day. But if you organize a day to go after the ceremony you can share all of those great pics and stories from your honeymoon!

Spa treatments are a huge trend with bachelorette parties, too.  When it comes to bachelorette parties, Spas are the new Vegas. Whether you go away for the weekend to a remote resort or spend an afternoon getting pre-ceremony facials, massages or mani-pedis at a local spa, maids of honor everywhere are making reservations to celebrate this special event.

Tomorrow I am going on a spa day with some girlfriends to get our tootsies ready for the Spring weather…if it ever shows up, but that is a different blog. In addition to a mani-pedi my dull Winter face will be scrubbed away to be replaced by a new Spring face! I have been looking forward to this “Girls Day Out” all week; time with good friends and a day at the spa equals great memories and much needed relaxation.  I cannot stress enough how much I love this new trend. Here is to creating new traditions and memories!

An Irish Wedding in East Tennessee

This weekend as I was driving through Knoxville’s historic Old City, a few blocks from our downtown office, the streets were covered with people in green preparing to celebrate Knoxville’s annual St. Patrick’s Day Pub Crawl. My creativity was instantly sparked as I began to think about all the possibilities of an Irish Inspired Wedding! I have friends that have gotten married or renewed their vows in Ireland, but what about bringing the magic of The Shortgrass Country to the mountains of East Tennessee! This thought got me really excited. Being a county so rich in history and beautiful handmade treasures, Ireland is a perfect source of inspiration for a creative and unusual Vintage Wedding. Though it may be difficult to find lace dating back to the 1840’s when Irish lace making became popular, a lace wedding dress would be stunning. You can also incorporate lace into the clothing of the bridal party or at the reception in the table decorations. While your bridesmaids may feel elegant in lace, some of the most memorable suits for groomsmen are Celtic kilts. The combination of Irish lace dresses and groomsmen in kilts will make amazing wedding photos and memories that your guests are sure to talk about for years to come.


To bring the sound of the Irish to the mountains of Tennessee consider walking down the isle to an Irish wedding song played on bagpipes. If you really love all things Irish, a Claddagh ring as your wedding band will be a daily reminder of this day. Traditionally handed down from mother to daughter, the Claddagh ring is used for the engagement ring as well as the wedding band. Upon engagement the ring is placed on the right hand with the crown pointing toward the heart. During the ceremony the ring will move to the left hand and the crown will point toward the finger tip.


There are plenty of ways to incorporate rich Irish traditions into your reception starting with the menu. Irish Soda Bread with a cheese selection, smoked salmon or potato and leak soup make great first courses. Shepherd’s pie or corned beef and cabbage can be elegant main courses. A traditional Irish Wedding Cake is a fruit cake laced with whiskey and covered with almond paste. Other decadent desserts including Bailey’s cheesecake or Guinness Chocolate cake could also be served. When making a traditional Irish toast, consider filling your glasses with mead, a sweet Irish honey wine. Following the first dances, a performance by a group of Irish dancers (or an Irish dance your bridal party learned before the wedding) is the most incredible way to open the dance floor to your guests. To get the full Irish experience, pack your bags and Irish sweaters, jump on a plane and travel across the pond to kiss the Blarney Stone on your honeymoon!